Faith Like A Child: Week 3 Discussion Guide

Faith Like a Child - Part 3 Saying Sorry
Contributing Curriculum Team Writers:  Sherrill Wall & Rebekah Backowski

Today we consider something almost all parents and teachers insist that children practice in their interactions with others at home, in school, and on the playground, and yet as adults we often have ceased to use in our own interactions – saying “I’m sorry.”  Rather than addressing a hurt immediately as we encourage children to do, we often allow the words to remain unspoken and the hurt to linger.  In our discussion today, we will consider the power of those words, why they are often difficult to say, and how this childhood practice can still be a pathway towards healing relationships with God and others.

Opening Prayer
Heavenly Father, we come again with thankful hearts for this discussion group.  Thank you for each person present and especially for all shared thoughts and vulnerabilities this season. Today as we discuss the relationship act of apologizing, give us open minds and hearts so that our relationship with you and with one another would be sweet.  Amen.

Ice Breaker
Who was your best friend growing up?  Are you still in touch? Did your relationship ever suffer due to lack of an apology or grow because of an apology given?

Circle Back
Last week we considered the importance of PLAY.  Pastor Adam spoke of play as something that is its own end – just for fun,  just for joy!  

  • How did you play this week?
  • What goals did you set or might you continue to consider for routine play?
  • Was the thought of play possibly still too difficult to embrace?

Head / Scripture
Mark 1:14-15  
After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, saying, “Now is the time!  Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives and trust this good news!”
The Gospel of Mark is a concise discussion of the ministry of Jesus.  It is recognized by some scholars as the gospel for the “strong” man and was written presumably for Romans and other Gentiles who likely had little experience with Jewish tradition.  Our text, Mark 1:14-15 is key in summarizing what Jesus proclaims as the gospel – the breaking into human history of God’s kingdom and therefore the need for repentance and for faith.

  • What role does repentance play in restoring a relationship with God?  Why is it an essential part of the gospel?
  • The last phrase of the passage, “ this good news!” (CEB) or “...believe the message” (TMB) or “...believe in the gospel” (ESV) implies that a second requirement for a restored relationship is faith.  How does repentance make room for faith? 
  • What scriptures can you remember about forgiveness?  How is forgiveness related to apologies? 

sor·ry adjective  Feeling or expressing regret or sorrow or a sense of loss over  something done or undone

a·pol·o·gy  noun     A regretful acknowledgment of offense or failure

re·pent·ance   noun  Reviewing one’s actions and feeling regret for past wrongs, which is accompanied by commitment or actual actions that show and prove a change for the better.

  • Do you think these definitions above fairly reflect your own beliefs about the words sorry, apology, and repentance?  Are they interchangeable?  Why or why not?
  • Which one do you struggle with the most and why?

Heart / Personal Growth
When we instruct our children to say I’m sorry, we provide them with a pathway to restore a relationship with a playmate so that the fun can continue. Usually the restoration is quick.

Unfortunately, as we grow older, the emotions we identify with saying the words begin to get in the way.  

  • What emotions do we experience when we know we have wronged or hurt someone?  How might our feelings lead to rationalization and even refusal to acknowledge the hurt?
  • Are any of these feelings particularly familiar to you personally?
  • If you are comfortable doing so, share with your group an emotional struggle which has made it difficult for you to say I’m sorry.

Actual Biblical context for saying “I’m sorry" is filled with instances in which individuals or groups acknowledged their sorrow for wrongdoing or behavior that resulted in harsh or unwanted consequences.  Such examples include the Prodigal Son, Jonah in the belly of the whale, Daniel in his prayers for Israel in exile.  You can likely name many others.  Experiencing regret after the consequences is still very real to us today.  

  • Can you think of a time in your own life when the consequences of your action or lack of action finally spurred you to apologize?
  • Are there currently relationships in your life which could possibly be restored or strengthened by a word of apology? Or are you still waiting for an apology owed to you?
  • How do apologies invite forgiveness?  

Hands / Application
Most of us have at least one need and/or opportunity to say, “I’m sorry” during any given day. We’re often too quick with our words and with our tempers, easily giving and receiving offense.

 James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry.”

  • This week, consider how this thought might encourage you to improve relations with those around you.  Could giving attention to the way we listen and speak to others both limit the number of times we need to say I’m sorry and reduce the possibility of leaving the words unsaid when needed?  
  • Saying I’m sorry can be a proactive tool in maintaining good relationships.  This week take note of other things you can do or say to encourage and enhance your relationships.  Be prepared to share at least one strategy with your group next week.

Check out this resource for a deeper dive in asking for and receiving forgiveness:

Closing Prayer
Father, please forgive us when we fail to say, “I’m sorry.” Teach us how to lay down our rights and choose to forgive in the same way you have forgiven us. In your precious son Jesus’s name, Amen.

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